Ketchup to the rescue! My son's obsession with the red stuff

I like to think that my kids are reasonably well balanced when it comes to food. They eat a good amount of fruit and vegetables, they love to help themselves to a well-stocked salad bar at Harvester or Pizza Hut and can usually be persuaded to try something new. At the same time, I'm not militant when it comes to sweets and treats and am happy for them to have small amounts of chocolate and cake.

So, in my parenting bubble where everything can often seem challenging and overwhelming, food is one area which I don't stress too much about.

Until recently, that is.

Recently, I have began to feel a little bit insulted by the overuse of tomato ketchup at mealtimes.


The main culprit? My son, Ollie, who now insists on smothering his food with sauce at every opportunity. Fish fingers and chips? Ketchup. Sausage and mash? Ketchup. Roast dinner with all the trimmings? Ketchup.

He adds it to everything. Pies. Lasagne. Potatoes.

I manage to stop him from adding it to spaghetti, sandwiches, fajitas or chilli con carne, but it doesn't stop him from asking.

It reminds me of the advert for Heinz advert from 2002 - the Grandma serving food to her Grandson who won't eat it until the Grandfather gets the bottle of tomato sauce. 


And I did start to question whether my cooking is so bad that the only way Ollie can stomach it, is to cover it in sauce to mask the taste.

After a teeny amount of stressing, it turns out I shouldn't be so sensitive.

And I should be above feeling relief (and a small amount of pleasure) when he asks for ketchup out of the house and at other people's homes.

But I'm not. I was quite glad when he asked for ketchup with a spoon when we went out for dinner last week.

It's not just my cooking! Hooray!

Instead, it seems that Ollie just really, really likes the stuff.

I mean, I love ketchup. I won't eat a burger or hot dog without it. I like it with pizza, something that Matt finds bizarre. It's possibly the greatest condiment of all time.

But.

I don't use my finger to ensure I get every last bit off my plate. I don't lick it. I don't use a fork to scoop it up and eat it on it's own.

You have to draw the line somewhere.

The other day, I told Ollie off for attempting to lick the ketchup off his plate.

"But Mummy! I LOVE ketchup!"

And I had to explain that some things are best kept in small amounts. And desperate occasions. Like when he refuses to eat something without it.

"Yay! Ketchup to the rescue!"

He's obsessed. Something that Lily has picked up on. Now, at the slightest, rarest sign of meal time dissatisfaction she jumps up and hurries to the fridge.

I used to buy a bottle of ketchup every few months. Now I'm buying one every few weeks.

I even find myself wondering if I'll come downstairs one morning to see him pouring it all over his breakfast cereal or spreading it on his toast.

Worried that he was becoming addicted to the salt and sugar, I started shopping around for store brands with less of the 'bad stuff' in it. I'm sure it still has too much but at least I feel a little bit better about my son's ketchup habit now.

Turning to Google, I realise that Ollie's addiction isn't really as bad as my overactive imagination makes out. Thoughts of him eating nothing but tomato sauce by the time he's 10 have been quelled with the comforting testimonies of other parents around the globe who appear to confirm that this is just a stage.

So, while he's still eating all his vegetables, enjoying a balanced diet and isn't hooked up to a bottle of Heinz via IV, it's all good.

It'll only be when I go to give him a kiss and Lily runs to the fridge for ketchup that I'll really have something to cry about.

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